Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Normals - Reissue on Last Laugh Records
Here's another great reissue from Harry at Last Laugh Records, from The Normals out of New Orleans. I know what you're thinking, I haven't ever heard of any kind of '70s punk scene in that part of the country either, and that's why it's great to find out about singles like this that LL is determined will never be forgotten. This was their first release from 1978, entitled Almost Ready, and I'm starting to think that must have had something to do with naming Harry's other label, Almost Ready Records.
The A-Side, "Almost Ready" has the guitar taking the lead in tempo with massive power chords, setting the pace for the drum and vocal. This is surprisingly big and punchy, everything mixed at the perfect power punk volumes, even the backup ooooo's, I'm beginning to see not just the roots of Jeff Novak, the Busy Signals, or even Jay but a direct link. This literally is going on still today, but deliberately not recorded half as clear. They have a concise, manic energy here, a muted power chord chk chk chk chk verse blows up into those constant attacks while Charlie Hanson on vocal has a new wave low delivery and I can imagine around this time those lines were pretty blurred. Call it punk, or the REAL punk, but the thing I love about that classification is how little it has to do most times with the music itself and being more about a scene or ideology. If their posthumous full length sounds anything like this then I'm going to have to pick up a copy.
The B-Side, "Hardcore" on the other hand has a more minimal stark sound, the guitar leads off again with a compact crunch distortion, vocally their as punchy as the 4/4 beat with staccato lyrics off on their own rhythm, sounding like The Units or Devo. Great harmonies in a back and forth vocal of Charlie against the chorus of the band. They're really in the middle of that fracture between punk and post punk of something like The Wire and Gang of Four.
Doesn't really matter / the things we talked about.../ I wouldn't miss you if you fell through the floor
The guitar lead eventually takes over the track, and another melody is introduced that leads to a bigger punk chorus of everyone singing "My Hardcore!", with a fake finish where they reintroduce that original melody again to finish it off. Two great tracks of insane promise for the Normals.
Last Laugh not only has copies of this, pressed from the original stampers (!) but is offering an unreleased full length Vacation to Nowhere on their site.
Further reading on the New Orleans punk scene courtesy Offbeat mag and James Lien.
Also check out this live show from 1980